Why I Nominate: Learn More About the O’Donnell Awards Nomination Process

Selda Gunsel Profile

Since their inception, TAMEST’s Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards have recognized 59 researchers across the fields of medicine, engineering, science and technology innovation for their contributions to Texas and the wider scientific community.

A prestigious honor, the award recipients are nominated by TAMEST members, university chancellors, presidents, provosts, vice presidents for research, deans or industry executives. A committee of TAMEST members then evaluate the nominations and consult with a panel of National Academies members from outside of Texas and a committee of Texas Nobel Laureates to select the winners.

Though the competition is fierce in a state filled with scientific talent, TAMEST Member Fazle Hussain, Ph.D. (NAE) said he was proud to learn his nomination of Texas Tech University Associate Professor Alessandra Corsi, Ph.D., resulted in her receiving the 2020 O’Donnell Award in Science for her paradigm-shifting research on the merger of stars and black holes.

“She has accomplished tremendous amounts, is very well known in her field and may well be the leading researcher in the world,” Dr. Hussain, President’s Endowed Distinguished Chair in Engineering, Science and Medicine of Texas Tech University, said of Dr. Corsi during the 2020 O’Donnell Awards Dinner in January.

Designed to highlight Texas’ premiere researchers in the early stages of their careers, nominees in medicine, engineering and science must be within 15 years of their first faculty appointment to be eligible. For those nominated in technology innovation, the eligibility is 25 years from their first full-time, industry-affiliated position. All nominees must have spent the past two years performing research in Texas and not yet be elected to the National Academies.

UT Health San Antonio President William Henrich, M.D., MACP, told the audience at the 2020 O’Donnell Awards Dinner that he knew his nominee Bess Frost, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at UT Health San Antonio’s Barshop Institute for Longevity, was an ideal recipient of the prestigious award.

“Her interactions with patients and families with dementia have motivated her to seek targets for therapy so that finally, at long last, there will be progress in fighting these horrible diseases,” President Henrich said. “Her charisma and connection with people, with donors, with patients, with faculty, with graduate students, emanates from her sincerity of purpose.”

Dr. Frost told the audience at the dinner that she was humbled when she received the award in medicine for her innovative approach to research on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was actually in the audience last year [at the 2019 O’Donnell Awards dinner] and was so blown away by the recipients and their work,” Frost said. “I never thought that this year I would be one of the ones receiving this award…I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow the feeling of wanting to make all of you proud. It’s a good motivator.”

Awardees receive a $25,000 honorarium, medal and are honored at TAMEST’s Annual Conference each January. Since 2006, 11 past O’Donnell Awards recipients have been elected to the National Academies.

The deadline to nominate for the 2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards is April 30, 2020.

Visit tamest.org/odonnell-awards/ for nomination guides, applications and general guidelines.


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